2003 Dodge Neon Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Dodge Neon Sedan

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Dodge Neon Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 215 hp @ 5400 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2003 Dodge Neon

  • Those looking for a polished economy car would be better served elsewhere, but if high performance on a budget is the goal, then the 2003 Dodge Neon SRT-4 makes a strong case for itself.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Fun in the curves, strong brakes, decent ride, rockin' sound system.

  • Cons

    Lacks refinement, some low-grade interior components.

  • What's New for 2003

    The fire-breathing 2003 Dodge Neon SRT-4 debuts, sporting a 215-horsepower turbocharged engine, a tweaked suspension and Viper-inspired sport seats. Zero to 60 is said to take about 6 seconds. All Neons receive a facelift in the form of new front and rear ends as well as interior changes that include a new steering wheel.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (92 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

Unfortunate purchase

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Vehicle: 2002 Dodge Neon

I've had this car for almost 2 years, and have had problem after problem, regret upon regret. I have treated it like my firstborn, always hoping that after /this/ repair it will run well for a good long time, but no, not a chance. Got it for $2800 at 81000 miles, but put $4000 in repairs in the first year, including rotors, e-brake, sway bar links and bushings, control arm bushings, muffler, transmission mount, shifter cables, steering tie rod and lights. It never quite felt like it was driving nicely even after repairs. The story ends with the transmission failing. UNCLE!

Piece of junk

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Vehicle: 2002 Dodge Neon

I bought this car as my first car when I was 16 years old. Believing it was a great car, good size, good MPG, and being that I paid under $6000 with it having less than 30,000 miles I figured it would last me long enough to turn around and sell it for a decent chunk of change. Here it is, 6 years later, I've vested well over a grand into it in monotonous repairs to a car with under 80,000 (as of today 12/6) should not be having. I think it may finally be back in working shape, but at this point I am sick of it. The amount of money I've put in repetative repairs is enough to make me want to torch it. Neon's have a history of being terribly built. Abide by that fact.

02 dodge neon (automatic)

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Vehicle: 2002 Dodge Neon

As I said it is an automatic and Dodge made a programming error in the Neon's automatic transmission so that's about the only problem. I bought MJ this year with 83K miles (now 90k) when I bought the car I had no experience in the mechanics and if I had I wouldn't have bought THAT Neon BUT I am glad I did. If you like paying people to fix your car, do not buy a Neon. If you can fix things on your own get it. MJ has been through a LOT (off road, 3 or 4 wrecks, and a half country trip) but she keeps going, I did pay quite a bit to fix her up but a lot was the previous owner (the wrecks were limited to suspension damage and a cracked rim) since the complete fix I haven't spent a dime.

Dodge neon 02

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Vehicle: 2002 Dodge Neon

This car was great at first(80,000), but after a year with 111,000 miles on it, had to surrender to pick n pull....This car will need extra special help if you want it to last. Cheap, but not a good choice if you want a soid car.

Since 2002

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Vehicle: 2002 Dodge Neon

I have owned this car since 2002. It runs incredibly fantastic. No problems since ownership. I have nearly 90K miles on it and take it into L.A. every day. Runs smooth, 35 mpg Hwy (Higher than officially rated), and an unbelievable air conditioner which I can only run on low, even on hot days, because it get's so cold in the car. The AC is better than the one in my Mercedes! While far from being a chick magnet, this car is the most reliable car I've ever owned. And I'm keeping it!

Good at first...

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Vehicle: 2002 Dodge Neon

I got my neon almost 3 yrs ago, at first it was nice and it got me around. I got it with 79,000 miles on it. Within the first week the dash got bubbles in it. After that it ran okay, hard, long start and misfiring every once in awhile. 1st yr I had to replace the brakes, rotors, tires, and bushing cost $700. The next year just new bulbs $10. Recently before I got rid of it I had to replace the struts, tire rod, brakes again, stabilizer pin, emergency brake and radiator $900+. I had the final straw when I finished fixing all of that and the catalytic converter went out.. I was terrified of driving the car and I took good care of it with regular maintenance. I would not recommend this car.

Full 2003 Dodge Neon Review

What's New for 2003

The fire-breathing 2003 Dodge Neon SRT-4 debuts, sporting a 215-horsepower turbocharged engine, a tweaked suspension and Viper-inspired sport seats. Zero to 60 is said to take about 6 seconds. All Neons receive a facelift in the form of new front and rear ends as well as interior changes that include a new steering wheel.


Since the Neon's introduction in 1995, Dodge has struggled to address the small car's chief criticism -- a lack of refinement. A raucous engine and generous levels of cabin noise were the car's major weaknesses, while sprightly performance (with a manual gearbox) and a spacious cabin were its strengths. Subsequent years saw the introduction of a high-performance R/T model and a complete redesign in 2000 that updated the car's looks, reduced the engine's noise and vibration levels and improved the ride and handling. Some old-tech hardware, such as a three-speed (instead of four) automatic gearbox remained, however, and powertrain refinement still lagged behind perennial class leaders, Honda's Civic and Toyota's Corolla, as well as most every other compact wearing a Japanese label. Last year saw (finally) the introduction of a four-speed automatic tranny as well as a new trim level, the value-packaged SXT.

For 2003, Dodge has updated the Neon with new front and rear fascias, light clusters and interior bits, including a new steering wheel to replace the strange-looking "upside-down" wheel previously used. In the constant fight to smooth out the Neon's 2.0-liter inline four, revised engine mounts were installed as was a taller fifth gear in manual-transmission SE and SXT models. And squaring off against challengers such as Nissan's Sentra SE-R, Mazda's Mazdaspeed Protege and Ford's SVT Focus is the new 2003 Dodge Neon SRT-4, packing a class-leading 215 horsepower that makes it the fastest car available for under $20,000. In addition to being able to run to 60 mph in just 6 seconds, the SRT-4 is fortified with a sport suspension, four-wheel disc/ABS brakes and 17-inch alloys fitted with high-performance Michelin Pilot tires.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

Four four-door sedans comprise the 2003 Dodge Neon lineup. Base SE models come with a cassette player, a split-fold rear seat and a tilt steering wheel. Air conditioning and a CD player are optional. Moving up to the SXT adds an air conditioner; power front windows, mirrors and locks; a CD player (replacing the cassette deck); and 15-inch alloy wheels. Sporty R/T models come with more horsepower (150 versus 132), four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, dual-outlet exhaust, a rear spoiler, foglamps, a sport suspension and 16-inch alloy wheels. The SRT-4 adds serious thrust in the form of a turbocharged, 215-horsepower engine along with 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 205/50R17 performance tires. Key options include a power sunroof (SXT and R/T) and leather seating (R/T and SRT-4).

Powertrains and Performance

A 2.0-liter, 132-horsepower inline four powers SE and SXT models, while the R/T gets a high-output version of that engine worth 150 horsepower. The SRT-4 is fitted with a turbocharged, 215-horsepower 2.4-liter I4 that boasts a 0-to-60-mph time of around 6 seconds and a top speed north of 140 mph. Transmission choices include a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual.


Antilock brakes are optional on base and SXT models, standard on the R/T and SRT-4. Side airbags are optional across the line. In frontal impact testing, the Neon scored four out of five stars; in side-impact tests, it got three stars. In frontal offset crash tests, the Neon scored just a "Marginal" rating, which can be thought of as two out of four stars.

Interior Design and Special Features

A few minor changes in the cabin bear mentioning; a new steering wheel with aluminum accent and a six-disc in-dash CD changer that is standard on the R/T and optional on the SXT. Audiophiles will be pleased to know that the R/T's sound system was rated highly by our stereo expert as it packs plenty of power and delivers it in a clean manner.

Driving Impressions

Previous Neons we drove were not as smooth and quiet as other cars in this class. Hopefully, the new engine mounts will smooth out the Neon's inline four. Handling for the R/T and SRT-4 is about as good as it gets in a small front-driver, with the Neon demonstrating an eagerness for the twisties through its well-weighted steering, balanced chassis and flat cornering attitude. In a 2002 Econosport sedans comparison test we conducted, a Neon R/T came in last place out of six cars. With the SRT-4, a reversal of fortune may be in the Neon's future.

Talk About The 2003 Neon

Read more about the 2003 Dodge Neon

Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs